Huskers Fall in Overtime at No. 7 Texas Tech
Lubbock, Texas - Nebraska took No. 7 Texas Tech down to the wire and beyond, but an interception on the Huskers' lone drive in overtime ended NU's upset hopes in a 37-31 loss at Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskers slipped to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big 12 with the loss, while Texas Tech improved to 6-0 on the year and 2-0 in conference play.
In a classic Big 12 showdown filled with big plays, bigger scores and missed opportunities, Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz hit senior wide receiver Todd Peterson on a 17-yard touchdown strike with 29 seconds left to cap the Huskers' 14-point fourth-quarter comeback and tie the score at 24 to end regulation.
In the overtime, Nebraska special teams captain Jake Wesch, who earlier in the fourth quarter completed an eight-yard pass on a fake field goal to keep NU's first touchdown drive alive in the quarter, called heads to win the toss. NU chose to play defense on the opening possession of overtime and Texas Tech scored on a reverse play from two yards out just four plays later. Despite the score, the door was left open by the Red Raiders when Donnie Carona's extra-point was blocked by Zach Potter to leave the Huskers 25 yards from victory.
On NU's possession, Ganz overshot wide receiver Nate Swift on his first attempt, before running from heavy pressure on the Huskers' second play of the drive. Ganz flipped the ball up the field in an attempt to avoid the sack, but his pass was intercepted by Texas Tech to end the game and NU's hopes of an impressive upset. The interception was the only turnover of the game by either team and it ended an otherwise impressive performance by Ganz.
The senior quarterback from Palos Heights, Ill., completed a career-high 36 passes on 44 attempts for 349 yards and two touchdowns on the afternoon for a career-best 81.8 completion percentage. Not only did Ganz outperform Tech quarterback Graham Harrell statistically, Ganz also executed NU's offensive game plan to near perfection. The Husker offense possessed the ball for 40:12 in regulation, keeping Harrell and the high-powered Red Raider offense off the field.
For the game, Ganz helped Nebraska amass 471 yards of total offense, including 357 passing yards and 114 yards on 35 rushing attempts on the ground. Ganz and the Husker offense also had 80 offensive plays, compared to just 48 for Texas Tech, but the Red Raiders still managed 421 total yards, including 284 through the air and 137 on the ground.
Ganz distributed the ball to eight receivers who all had at least two receptions, led by Todd Peterson's eight catches for 77 yards and a score and Marlon Lucky's season-high seven receptions for 80 yards. Menelik Holt added a career-high six catches for 55 yards. Lucky added 16 carries for 66 yards on the ground, while Roy Helu Jr. rushed 10 times for 47 yards on the day.
"What this game shows you is the potential we have as a football team," Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini said. "If you put in the hard work, practice well, put in the game plan, follow it and execute, you have a chance to beat any team. We just didn't execute well enough to win the football game. We left too many plays out on the football field and made too many mistakes. I like the character of this football team and their will to and want to win football games. We just need to play smarter, go back to work and keep plugging along."
Nebraska trailed 24-10 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Husker game plan was showing its effectiveness by holding the Red Raiders to just one third-quarter possession.
The Huskers ended the third quarter with possession and marched into the Texas Tech red zone before stalling on 4th-and-7 at the Red Raider 9. Alex Henery came on for an apparent field goal attempt, but NU holder Jake Wesch took the snapped and rolled right to find tight end Mike McNeill on an eight-yard completion to convert the first down.
On the next play, Ganz followed his offensive line into the end zone to cut the Texas Tech lead to 24-17 with 12:10 left.
On the ensuing drive, Husker defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh dropped Shannon Woods for a one-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 at the Tech 29, to force the Red Raiders' lone punt of the second half. After a 40-yard punt, the Huskers took over at their own 32 and firmly took hold of the momentum when Ganz hit Swift on a 43-yard completion on the opening play of the drive.
Two plays later, Ganz hit Niles Paul on a nine-yard completion on 3rd-and-8 to keep NU's drive alive. After a 13-yard completion to Marlon Lucky and a pair of Lucky runs to move the Huskers to the doorstep, Ganz hit tight end Dreu Young with a two-yard pass to tie the game at 24 with 6:06.
With a stunned Jones Stadium crowd of 53,449 and an FSN national television audience looking on, the Husker defense had a chance to deal Texas Tech a major blow on the following drive.
After a quick first down by the Red Raiders, the Huskers forced Texas Tech into a 4th-and-5 and its own 36 with just over four minutes remaining in the game. Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach chose to go for it rather than punt, and Harrell came through a 47-yard completion to 2007 Big 12 Offensive Player-of-the-Year Michael Crabtree.
Five plays later, Harrell hit paydirt from one yard out with 2:21 left to put the Red Raiders up 31-24.
But Ganz and the Huskers had another answer in their first road game of the season, flying 79 yards in just 1:52 capped by Ganz's 17-yard strike to Peterson to send the game to overtime.
Nebraska never led in the game, but never fell out of striking distance from the Red Raiders. Tech led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 17-7 at halftime, before falling behind 24-10 at the end of three quarters.
The Huskers pulled within a score to start the third quarter with a time-consuming 14-play drive that consumed seven minutes of the play clock. In addition to keep Texas Tech's high-powered offense off the field, NU added three points to the scoreboard with Henery's 21-yard field goal after driving inside the Red Raider 5, before stalling.
Nebraska's opening drive of the second half nearly mirrored its first scoring drive of the opening half. After holding Texas Tech on the game's opening possession, NU's first drive stalled near midfield to force an NU point. The Red Raiders took a 7-0 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter on Crabtree's 35-yard touchdown catch on a quick-hitting receiver screen down the middle of the field.
The Huskers responded to tie the score early in the second quarter on an impressive 15-play drive that chewed up 8:03 of the game clock. Nebraska capped the balanced drive on Quentin Castille's four-yard touchdown plunge with 11:46 remaining in the first half.
Texas Tech used a big play on its next drive to regain the lead, but the Husker defense stiffened inside the red zone to keep the Red Raiders out of the end zone. After a three-yard rush on the opening play of the drive, Tech running back Baron Batch unleashed a 49-yard burst on the second play of the drive to reach the NU 16.
But the NU defense stopped the Red Raiders at the 9-yard line, despite two completions by Harrell, and the Red Raiders settled for a 26-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead with 8:13 left in the half.
The Husker offense appeared ready to respond to the Red Raider score, marching 50 yards on the ensuing drive, but on fourth down and less than a yard, Castille was stopped inches short of the first down and Texas Tech took over.
The Red Raiders capitalized quickly, as Harrell hit Edward Britton on a 56-yard completion to the NU 14 on the first play of the ensuing drive. Three plays later, Texas Tech hit paydirt on Woods' four-yard run to push the Red Raider lead to 17-7 with 1:18 left in the half.
Paul then put the Huskers in position to gain some momentum heading into the locker room at halftime by taking the kickoff at the goal line and erupted on a 69-yard return to put the Huskers at the Tech 31. On the first play of the drive, Ganz hit Holt on a seven-yard completion to reach the Tech 24.
But on the next play, the Huskers were flagged for offensive holding to wipe out a five-yard gain by Ganz. Facing 2nd-and-13, Ganz hit McNeill on a 21-yard pass down the middle for an apparent first down, but the gain was again nullified by an NU holding penalty.
Those two penalties pushed the Huskers just out of Henery's field goal range, but after an eight-yard gain on 3rd-and-23, Henery missed short on a 53-yard field goal attempt to end the half.
Nebraska pulled within 17-10 midway through the third quarter before the Texas Tech offense made its first appearance of the second half. The Red Raiders responded with Harrell's four-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree on their only drive of the third quarter to push Texas Tech's lead to 24-10.
Harrell completed 20-of-25 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns on the day, while Crabtree led the Red Raiders with five catches for 89 yards and two scores. Batch led the Tech rushing game with 97 yards on 10 carries, while Woods added 37 yards on 10 totes.
Nebraska will complete a two-game road swing in Big 12 Conference action next Saturday, when the Huskers take on Iowa State in Ames on Oct. 18. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. with live national television coverage provided by Versus.
Scoring (#7 Texas Tech 37, Nebraska 31)
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008
Jones Stadium (Lubbock, Texas)
First Quarter (Texas Tech 7, Nebraska 0)
TT - Michael Crabtree 35 pass from Graham Harrell (Donnie Carona kick), 4:49
Second Quarter (Texas Tech 17, Nebraska 7)
NU - Quentin Castille 4 run (Alex Henery kick), 11:46
TT - Carona 26 field goal, 8:13
TT - Shannon Woods 4 run (Carona kick), 1:18
Third Quarter (Texas Tech 24, Nebraska 10)
NU - Henery 21 field goal, 8:00
TT - Crabtree 4 pass from Harrell (Carona kick), 4:49
Fourth Quarter (Texas Tech 31, Nebraska 31)
NU - Joe Ganz 1 run (Henery kick), 12:10
NU - Dreu Young 2 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 6:06
TT - Harrell 1 run (Carona kick), 2:21
NU - Todd Peterson 17 pass from Ganz (Henery kick), 0:29
Overtime (Texas Tech 37, Nebraska 31)
TT - Eric Morris 1 run (Carona kick blocked, Zach Potter), 0:00
Nebraska at #7 Texas Tech Final Game Statistics Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini Quotes Nebraska Player Quotes Nebraska Postgame Notes Nebraska Season Statistics Photo Gallery